Meet Betsy DeVos, Trump’s Pick for Education Secretary

Betsy DeVos, president-elect Donald Trump and vice president-elect Mike Pence pose for a photo outside the clubhouse at Trump International Golf Club, November 19, 2016 in Bedminster Township, New Jersey. Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration.

By Kelsey Bolar Published on November 23, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump has selected billionaire philanthropist Betsy DeVos, a relatively unknown figure on the national scene, to head the U.S. Department of Education.

“Betsy DeVos is a brilliant and passionate education advocate,” Trump said in a press release. “Under her leadership we will reform the U.S. education system and break the bureaucracy that is holding our children back so that we can deliver world-class education and school choice to all families.”

Although she has little name recognition, DeVos is well-known in the education world, having donated and served on the board for a number of school choice nonprofits.

“I am honored to accept this responsibility to work with the President-elect on his vision to make American education great again,” DeVos said in a statement. “The status quo in education is not acceptable. Together, we can work to make transformational change that ensures every student in America has the opportunity to fulfill his or her highest potential.”

DeVos is a relatively safe pick for conservatives who favor school choice programs such as vouchers that would enable low-income families to send their children to a private school of their choice, however, she is a polarizing figure for those who support the traditional public school system.

Here are seven things to know about Trump’s pick for education secretary:

1. Her Record on Common Core is Unclear.

Trump’s disdain for Common Core was perhaps the most talked about education issue on the campaign trail, but his new education secretary has a murky record on the subject. DeVos currently serves as head of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, which was started by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who Trump criticized on the campaign trail for defending the national standards. But according to the education news website Chalkbeat, “DeVos hasn’t been outspoken about the Common Core” in recent years.

2. She Strongly Supports School Vouchers.

DeVos believes that every child should have the opportunity for a “top-notch education,” regardless of their family’s financial background. For that reason, she and her husband advocated for a ballot proposal in 2000 that would have amended the Michigan Constitution to create a school voucher program that allows taxpayer funds to follow students to private schools. After hitting a roadblock, she and her husband formed a political action committee to support voucher-friendly candidates on the national level. According to Chalkbeat, “the group counted a 121-60 win-loss record.” Since then, she’s played a major role in expanding the number of school choice programs available to students across the country.

3. She Also Supports Charter Schools.

DeVos and her husband have been actively involved in promoting charter schools for over two decades, and helped to pass Michigan’s first charter school law in the state. Charter schools are publicly funded and open to all students, but able to operate with more autonomy than traditional public schools. There are currently 275 charter schools in Michigan, according to the American Federation for Children, some of which have been criticized for their lack of accountability and government oversight. Some blame the DeVos family for contributing to that lack of oversight. “The DeVos influence is one reason that Michigan’s charter sector is among the least regulated in the country,” Chalkbeat reported.

4. She’s an Outsider in Washington, but an Insider in Michigan.

Although dealing with the inner workings of Congress will be new to DeVos, she’s well-familiar with the political system, having served as chair of the Michigan Republican party. Her husband, Dick DeVos, was elected to the State Board of Education in 1990 and ran for governor of Michigan in 2006, losing to Democrat Jennifer Granholm.

5. She Supports Homeschooling.

In a 2013 interview with Philanthropy Roundtable, DeVos voiced her support for homeschooling. She said:

Homeschooling represents another perfectly valid educational option. We’ve seen more and more people opt for homeschooling, including in urban areas. What you’re seeing is parents who are fed up with their lack of power to do anything about where their kids are assigned to go to school. To the extent that homeschooling puts parents back in charge of their kids’ education, more power to them.

6. She Funds a Variety of Nonprofits.

DeVos and her husband, Dick DeVos, are founders of the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, where they support “organizations and programs that focus on community, education, the arts, justice, and leadership.” She serves as chairman of the American Federation for Children and the Alliance for School Choice, according to Philanthropy Roundtable. Some organizations the DeVos family has supported include the Foundation for Excellence in Education, ArtPrize, West Michigan Aviation Academy, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, American Enterprise Institute, Mars Hill Bible Church and The Heritage Foundation, which is the parent organization of The Daily Signal.

DeVos is the daughter of Edgar and Elsa Prince. Her father, Edgar Prince, was an extremely successful engineer, developer and industrialist, who founded the Prince Corporation. DeVos’ in-laws, Richard and Helen DeVos, are longtime personal supporters of The Heritage Foundation, which is the parent organization of The Daily Signal. Richard DeVos is the co-founder of Amway, which is now one of the largest and most successful companies in the world. In recognition of their support, The Heritage Foundation named the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society in their honor. Through their family foundation, Betsy and her husband Dick DeVos have continued the family’s support of The Heritage Foundation over the last decade.

7. She Chose to Send Her Children to Private Christian Schools.

Growing up, DeVos attended Holland Christian High School in Michigan, and graduated from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and political science. She also chose to send her children to private Christian schools, according to Chalkbeat.


Copyright 2016 The Daily Signal

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  • Hmmm…

    Good deal. She fits all around. On a light note, expect picks to be attractive, especially the women. Trump likes attractive people.
    (Odd, considering he could use some enhancements, which he could afford …) lol

    • faithntrust

      Instead of enhancements, I prefer the character signs of aging. Usually I agree with you, Hmmm.

      • Hmmm…

        Actually, the attempts he makes are ugly increasing, like the orange face with the fake tan stuff. He’s stopped that with the change in the season, which is a big help. The fake yellow hair is vastly inferior to the natural grey. That seems some lightened, better, but still that heap on top. Really surface critical stuff, but there it is. I do think a facial skin smooth would help. I do not think he has aged attractively, nor has a grasp of what works for him. He is also a good deal overweight, but has a critique of that in others. His act needs a lot of work, and I get tired of some of his swings, like the current thing about a president is immune or free of any conflict problem with business. He gets arrogant when he starts to feel secure. But he can pick good people around him. He needs a good butt kick now and then, and some of those generals are bound to do it sooner or later when his offhand, arrogant side gets too close to the cliff. He needs continual prayer, and obviously so do we to put up with him, since he causes us all problems by stirring up needless grief.

        • faithntrust

          Let’s stick to the real problems instead of picking on the superficial. Yep, prayer – For our Government administration & for a nation-wide revival!

          • Chip Crawford

            Let’s turn in our amateur sheriff badges and stick to our own business.

      • Chip Crawford

        You have to agree with the opinions of others posted here? If so, why would that be?

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